Many PC’s of the day feature a USB socket for add-ons like scanners, ‘play’ microscopes and even data loggers. Notable for a plug that has no obvious ‘up’, it’s a socket offering power and plug and play installation.
PASCO for example has a USB sensor range that works with the success you rarely see with data logging. The stuff costs more of course, but you have to see the good side: the pH, acceleration or distance sensor work really nicely as stand alone tools. Some of the UK data logging kits work with a USB cable – although usually it’s just an adaptor to bridge between the serial socket on the logger and the USB socket. Though things will change over the next year or so, at this moment it doesn’t use the power like true USB.
But lots of folk meet hurdles with USB. The golden rule is to install all the software before you even think of plugging the device in. Sometimes you’ll be asked to restart the machine – but do this anyway if you’re unsure. Next, when you’ve restarted and when the machine has truly settled down , you plug the device in, wait patiently and follow the instructions. When the installation is again truly complete, you can start your software. All this is a bit harder on a network system because every machine you use needs to go through this procedure. Some networks delete installations after a restart or when the server is upgraded, so you may hit snags with networks. If this doesn’t solve any problem, bear in mind that not all USB ports are alike. It seems to me that this imposes a limit on how many devices you may use. If you use a hub (essentially a splitter) and meet a snag, plug the device in directly without the hub. If you haven’t followed all this procedure and have a problem, either look for a software update on the web or uninstall the software, re-boot and start from fresh.